September 2012 Archives

September 28, 2012

Massachusetts Drug Lab Scandal: How Defendants Were Affected and What Can Be Done

The Massachusetts Department of Health Lab in Jamaica Plain (William A. Hinton Drug Laboratory) was ordered shut down by the governor a few weeks ago when it was discovered that at least one of the chemists at the lab allegedly engaged in malfeasance and violation of protocol with drug samples in criminal cases. The drug lab handled several thousand drug samples seized from criminal drug arrests in multiple counties, including Suffolk County, Middlesex County (until 2009), Bristol County, Worcester County and Norfolk County.

By way of background, when the police seized drugs in criminal cases, the drugs were ultimately sent to the DPH drug lab for testing and confirmation that the substance was, in fact, the certain controlled substance it was thought to be. At the lab, each drug sample was analyzed by one chemist, whose results were then checked by another chemist.

As it turns out, one of the supervising chemists is alleged to have engaged in intentional violation of protocol by tampering with evidence bags; altering the weight of drugs; not calibrating the drug testing machines properly; and even altering drug samples so that they would test as drugs when they were not! This particular chemist, who was employed by the DPH drug lab in Jamaica Plain from 2003 to 2012, is believed to have been involved with as many as 60,000 samples and 182,000 criminal drug cases.

Even more disturbing, the analyst under investigation, considered a 'supervisor', had unsupervised access to the drug safe and evidence room, theoretically calling into questioned every single drug case that passed through the Jamaica Plain drug lab, even where she was not directly responsible for the testing of those samples.

Obviously, this discovery creates a very serious problem as defendants who were charge with a Massachusetts Drug Crime were potentially prosecuted with tainted and/or fabricated drug evidence and leading to erroneous convictions and in some cases, deportation from the United States.

Since the governor ordered the lab closed and the matter referred for investigation, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys are scrambing to determine which cases were affected. Many defense attorneys like myself, have been pulling old files out of storage in an effort to identify all defendants whose cases might have been affected in any way.

So who is affected and what should they do?

Any person who was charged with a Massachusetts Drug Crime whose case resulted in a conviction or plea is potentially affected and they should contact an attorney, particularly any individual who was recently convicted and is currently serving a prison/jail sentence as a result of that drug conviction.

Depending on each defendant's individual circumstances, there are various options that should be considered:

  • Defendants convicted of a drug crime should consider a Motion for New Trial, which would essentially vacate the conviction. Where the defendant is currently serving a sentence as a result of a potentially tainted drug conviction, there could also be the possibility that the person is released from custody and otherwise file a Motion to Stay their sentence.
  • Defendants who pled guilty to a Massachusetts drug crime should consider a Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea.
  • Defendants who have received any disposition short of a dismissal or acquittal, for instance, persons who admitted sufficient facts and their case was Continued Without a Finding ("CWOF") and placed on probation, should also consider a Motion to Withdraw their plea.
Though attorneys on all sides of the issues are working to identity whose cases may have been affected, the list is long and time consuming. For this reason, if you believe your Massachusetts drug case may have been impacted by this you should contact an attorney for assistance.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis has extensive experience in defendant Massachusetts Drug Crimes and is available 24/7 for a free consultation if you were affected by the DPH Drug Lab Scandal.

Click Here to contact a Massachusetts Drug Lawyer or call 617-325-9500.

September 17, 2012

Massachusetts State Trooper Charged with Sexual Assault

A Massachusetts State Trooper was recently indicted by the Worcester County District Attorney's Office on Massachusetts Sex Crimes Charges.

The state trooper, who was most recently assigned to the Sturbridge barracks, allegedly assaulted an 18 year old girl four years ago. The Worcester grand jury indicted the Massachusetts trooper with three charges of Indecent Assault and Battery and two counts of Open and Gross Lewdness.

The Massachusetts Sex Crime of Indecent Assault & Battery involves an 'indecent act'. Massachusetts criminal law defines an indecent act as one that is fundamentally offense to contemporary standards of decency. Typical and most common forms of indecent assault and battery are the inappropriate touching of the private portions of ones anatomy.

The crime of Indecent Assault & Battery is punishable by imprisonment for up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections or up to 5 years in state prison.

The sex crime of Open and Gross Lewdness and Lascivious Behavior is the intentional, indecent and offensive exposure of one's genitals to another person; and is punishable with imprisonment in the House of Corrections for up to 2 years or up to 3 years in state prison.

Although a 'sex offense', a conviction for a first offender for Open and Gross Lewdness will not trigger Sex Offender Registration. However, if a person is convicted for a second time for Open & Gross Lewdness, he/she will be subject to registration as a sex offender.

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September 16, 2012

Former Somerville Priest Charged with Sexual Abuse of a Child

A former priest of an Episcopal church in Somerville was arrested earlier this month on Massachusetts Sex Crimes Charges for allegedly sexually abusing a child over a period of 10 years.

The priest was charged with Assault with Intent to Rape and three counts of Indecent Assault and Battery on a Child.

According to the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office, the priest allegedly committed the sexual abuse over a 10 year period and reportedly only ceased when he left the church. The alleged sexual abuse began in the 1990's when the child was in elementary school. The victim recently came forward to the police, which then prompted these charges being filed.

The Massachusetts Sex Crime of Assault with Intent to Commit Rape is punishable with imprisonment of up to life imprisonment. As with many sex crimes charges, a conviction for this offense would subject the offender to Sex Offender Registration and the person must submit his/her DNA to the state's DNA database.

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September 13, 2012

Cambridge Woman Arrested for Assault Brookline Police Officer

A Cambridge woman was arrested this week on Massachusetts Crimes of Violence Charges for allegedly assaulting a Brookline Police Officer. She was charged with Assault & Battery on a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest and Disorderly Conduct.

According to the Brookline Police Department, the officer came across the woman on Harvard Street in Brookline and she appeared to be unsteady on her feet. She and a male companion were apparently trying to locate a taxi. 15 minutes later, the Brookline Police came across the Cambridge woman again, this time in the company of two other men. Upon speaking with her, she then allegedly began yelling at other men passing by to take her home.

When police asked her to sit down, she allegedly became irate and attempted to hit the police officers, spit on them and kicked one in the groin.

The crime of Assault and Battery on a Police Officer is defined as the intentional harmful or offensive touching (however slight) upon a police officer without justification. A conviction for this crime carries a sentence of not less than 90 days and up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections.

Resisting Arrest is the act of knowingly preventing or attempting to prevent a police officer from effecting an arrest of a person by the use of threats or physical force or violence. The crime of Resisting Arrest is punishable by imprisonment in the House of Corrections for up to 2.5 years.

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September 4, 2012

Brockton Man Charged with Attempted Murder for Shooting in Boston

A Brockton man was arraigned last week on several Massachusetts Crimes of Violence Charges for allegedly shooting at a crowd of people in Boston.

The man was formally arraigned in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court with Armed Assault to Murder, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Possession of Ammunition and Carrying a Loaded Firearm.

According to the Boston Police, the Brockton man exited his vehicle last Tuesday evening and started shooting at a group of people that were in front of a liquor store in the area of 620 Shawmut Avenue in Boston's South End.

Boston Police Officers allegedly witnesses the shooting and began chasing the man, who reportedly discarded the firearm. He was arrested further down on Washington Street.

Another man, from Boston, then allegedly grabbed the discarded gun and attempted to hide it in a plastic bag under some bushes. That man was also arrested and charged with Massachusetts Gun Crimes Charges. At his arraignment, Suffolk County prosecutors also charged him with being a Level III Armed Career Criminal. His bail was set at $15,000 after his arraignment in Dorchester Court.

As for the Brockton man, he was held on $100,000 cash bail with conditions, including GPS monitoring.

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